Rack of B-61 nuclear bombs

Continued U.S. Military Presence Abroad Stirs Mixed Reactions

July 04, 2008 02:00 PM
by Liz Colville
The presence of B-61 nuclear bombs at a base in southern Germany is just one example of how the U.S. retains its military presence—real and symbolic—abroad.

30-Second Summary

A military alliance remains between the United States and Europe, even if only theoretically. American B-61 nuclear warheads at the German Air Force’s base near Büchel, in southwest Germany, have remained there since the Cold War, and are still used during military practices by the German forces, according to Der Spiegel.

The bombs are a symbol of a NATO agreement forged nearly 20 years ago, which called for “Nuclear Sharing” between military allies. Their presence, supported by Germany’s deputy defense minister Thomas Kossendey, has “encountered strong opposition” within the government. But removing the bombs would “permanently weaken the relationship between Europe and North America,” Kossendey argues.

But even the U.S. is convinced of these and other weapons’ redundancy: most that remain in Germany, and a handful of other countries including Belgium and Turkey, do not comply with Department of Defense security standards.

A gradual reduction of the number of weapons deployed in Europe was seen to be imminent after the U.S. withdrew its U.K.-based weapons from RAF Lakenheath, a base outside London, this June.

Weapons are only one aspect of the United States’ strong presence around the globe. Military base presence and troops’ behavior have provoked negative sentiments and requests that the U.S. reduce its presence in locations such as Okinawa, the small Japanese island where about 50,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed.

Headline Link: ‘U.S. Nuclear Bombs in Europe: Berlin Holds on to Obsolete Weapons’

Background: U.S. military bases and weapons abroad

Opinions & Analysis: Pros and cons of U.S. military presence

Related Topics: U.S. withdraws nukes from U.K. base; Marine sexual abuse in Okinawa


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